An insightful, witty novel set in early twentieth-century black Boston by the Harlem Renaissance's youngest member.
"A powerful work." —Essence
The first novel by Dorothy West—author of The Wedding—was one of only a handful to be published by black women during the 1940s. The Living Is Easy tells the story of Cleo Judson, daughter of Southern sharecroppers, determined to integrate into Boston's black elite. Married to the "Black Banana King" Bart Judson, Cleo maneuvers her three sisters and their children—but not their husbands—into living with her, attempting to recreate her original family in a Bostonian mansion.
Written in elegant and piercing prose, The Living Is Easy is a classic of American literature by a groundbreaking African American woman writer whose work deserves widespread and enduring recognition.
Dorothy West (1907–1998) shared the coveted Opportunity short-story prize with Zora Neale Hurston in 1927 and later moved to New York, where she became the youngest of the writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance. West founded and edited the influential African American literary magazine the Challenge and New Challenge. Also the author of The Wedding and The Richer, The Poorer, she lived on Martha’s Vineyard until her death.
"[A] powerful work." —Essence
"Skillful prose and unmitigated societal critique will keep readers engaged to the end. West’s essential classic continues to endure." —Publishers Weekly
"Concerned with the magical qualities of black girlhood . . .The Living Is Easy focuses on the special role of the mother in childhood fantasies. . . . Cleo Jericho Judson is a grown woman when we first meet her . . . but it is the incomplete relationship with her long-dead mother that still drives her." —Village Voice
"The important thing about the book is its abundance and special woman's energy and beat. The beat is a deep one, and it often makes a man's seem puny." —The New York Times
“The living here—for West's characters, the Black community, herself—is hardly easy, but their ‘wildness’ continues to provoke, embolden and inspire.” —Shelf Awareness
"[Dorothy West] is a brisk storyteller with an eye for ironical detail . . . [and] a deft stylist and writer of social satire." —Ms. magazine